VENN: Premium eSports and Gaming Platform
October 30, 2020 | Ashley Brindamour
The popularity of video games is at an all-time high, with nearly 2.5 billion people playing games worldwide and annual esports events attracting 456 million viewers. According to an article by TechJury, by 2025 the industry will have an estimated net worth of $256.97 billion.
Video Game Entertainment News Network (VENN), an Alumni Ventures Group portfolio company, is aggressively addressing this opportunity by offering 24/7 live entertainment and content for gaming, streaming, and esports audiences. VENN partners with some of the biggest names in the gaming, pop culture, and lifestyle communities to feature on its in-house produced shows. The company’s online platform seeks to be an authentic voice for hundreds of millions of fans who consume gaming content today.
A Platform for Major Advertisers
VENN’s multiple formats of entertainment, such as talk shows, news, game shows, and docu-series, offer a marketing platform for advertisers who have suffered due to the limited production of new shows and sports programs caused by COVID. The “watch everywhere, instantly” viewing experience (recently launched on Roku TV and all Samsung/LG smart TVs) benefits the viewers and offers a solution for advertisers looking to tap into a brand-safe industry.
About the Deal
Purple Arch Ventures deployed capital in the company’s $26 million Series A led by Bitkraft Ventures, a $170 million esports focused fund run by industry veterans. Other existing investors in the company include Bertelsmann Digital Media, Kroenke Sports, aXiomatic, and the co-founders of Twitch, Riot Games, and Blizzard.
Additionally, the largest TV station owner in the U.S., Nexstar, came in with $7 million for the round and will help distribute and sell advertising on VENN’s behalf.
What We Liked About the Deal
Substantial Company Momentum: Due to the high-demand for gaming content during COVID, the company accelerated its launch by three months. As a result, VENN now has more than $13 million in commitments from T-Mobile, DraftKings, and Subway, with $20 million more in the pipeline.
Hyper-Engaged Audience: Esports viewership is projected to grow to 650 million by 2023. The top four streaming platforms accounted for almost 8 billion hours of viewing in 2020, and Facebook claims that over 700 million users engage with gaming content in some fashion each month.
Expert Team: VENN boasts a powerful team of some of the most experienced leaders in esports. The company’s founders consist of 4-time Emmy Award winner and pioneer of televised esports, Ariel Horn, as well as Ben Kusin from EA Sports & Vivendi. Executive team members include the producer of BlizzCon and League of Legends, the former CFO of Discovery Network U.S. and the Oprah Network, the former CTO of Vice Media, and the former head of audience insights at Twitch.